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AVAILABLE EXPERT – Use of data analytics in crime prevention

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Queen's University computing professor, David Skillicorn is available to comment on the use and effectiveness of police analytics in preventing and solving crime. Earlier today, the Saskatoon Police Service announced the opening of the Saskatchewan Police Predictive Analytics Laboratory, which will use information from police databases to predict behaviour and trends. The department is hoping the lab will help them solve everything from missing persons cases to violent crime.

"All police forces collect data about their interactions with criminals, but few apply the developing technologies of predictive analytics to learn from it," says Dr. Skillicorn. "It's important to be clear about what can be predicted. It's not possible to predict crime, in the style of "Minority Report". But it is possible to predict the risk of crime at a particular time and place, or by a particular person or group. And this makes it possible for police to deploy their resources in the most effective way."

"The reason that prediction helps is that risk is distributed extremely unevenly. For example, in Chicago, the risk of being shot is more than 12 times greater for someone who is part of the social network of co-offending criminals than it is for an ordinary person. The risk of a house break-in in any city drops sharply with its distance from the boundary of a subdivision. Results like this are not obvious, but can make a direct and practical improvement to policing."

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.caat Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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